A pleasant concept book to integrate counting, mountain habitats, and language arts.

BLUE RIDGE BABIES 1, 2, 3

A COUNTING BOOK

This variation on a popular counting song combines numbers with animals from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In “Over in the Meadow,” a counting poem–turned–traditional song for children, an animal mother asks her babies to perform a task in a rhythmic call-and-response. Each stanza, in turn, adds a sequential number to promote counting. This adaptation uses the refrain “Over in the Blue Ridge” to introduce animals from the region. Double-page spreads in earthy hues showcase a variety of scenes with charming, smiling animals populating land, sky, and water: Foxes pounce in a thicket; cardinals fly from a dogwood tree; brook trout swim in a creek. As in the original, animal mothers call on their numbered babies to act. A mother salamander, for instance, appeals to her 10 young efts: “ ‘Slither,’ said the mother. ‘We slither,’ said the TEN. / So they slithered in the mud of the boggy mountain fen.” Boldface text highlights the action words while cardinal numbers are emphasized in capital letters and different colors. Numerals beside each offspring also aid beginning counters. A final spread wraps up the song with all of the animal families featured together. A concluding section simply states that the Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains, but it provides more details about each animal as well as the score to the song.

A pleasant concept book to integrate counting, mountain habitats, and language arts. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64567-083-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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